Portugal And Cristiano Ronaldo Should Thank Zidane For World Cup Form

Cristiano Ronaldo has been sensational at this summer’s World Cup (so far).

He produced a majestic performance as he scored a wonderful hat-trick to get a draw with Spain in Portugal’s opening game and then he followed that up with a superb header that downed Morocco this afternoon.

That’s seen the forward already leading the scoring charts with four strikes to his name.

For once the superstar seems to peaking just in time for a World Cup.

Cristiano is obviously a very, very gift footballer and he has a lot of god given ability. He’s also an extremely hardworking professional, who looks at every detail of his life and does everything necessary to make sure he can be one of the best players in the world.

But I also think Ronaldo’s recent great form has a lot to do with his former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane.

It’s sometimes hard to forget that the Portuguese attacker is actually thirty-three years of age, yet Zizou was always aware that his star player was ageing.

That meant that the French boss had to manage and coach his biggest talent properly. That’s not always the easiest of tasks, just ask Jose Mourinho.

Yet Ronaldo could relate to Zidane. He knew that the forty-five year old coach had been through the exact same issues and could relate to him.

On Zidane’s part he could explain to Cristiano that it was important to the club and the player himself that he was used more sparingly at certain times of the season.

Instead of going for every title and award, it was important to get the right ones. That meant that the forward would take less notice of certain things like the Pichichi top-scorer award and concentrate on being fully fit for the season’s run-in.

When you look at Ronaldo’s form last season, he scored 43 goals in 42 games for Real. Now that’s still phenomenal but in terms of league goals he was eighth top scorer in Europe’s top leagues. Interestingly before the winter break he’d scored seventeen times, yet he would score twenty-seven times after the break.

Zidane also helped Ronaldo to change his style. He was no longer asked to do it all on his own, others were asked to put in a shift while the forward stayed up-front. He’s also become more of a poacher and finishing more from inside the oppositions penalty area than he did before.

Those relatively small changes have helped him stay fresh for the huge games when they come about towards the end of the season. It’s why Real Madrid have won the last three Champions League titles, Ronaldo topped the scoring charts in that tournament this year with fifteen goals in just thirteen games.

Discussing his management of Ronaldo, Zidane said:

“I speak with Cristiano all the time and I know him very well,”

 “He knows that until now, he played 60-70 games a season and the accumulation of all those years meant he needs to rest a little.”

“I’m not the coach that has made him rest, all I know is that players need to rest, especially if they want to arrive at the final stage of the season in top condition.”

That understanding and philosophy has worked wonders when it comes to keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at his best for the biggest occasions.

Portugal are certainly seeing the benefits of Zidane and Ronaldo’s working relationship this summer, and they should be very thankful!

Time Was Right For Jack Wilshere To Leave Arsenal

It must have been a tough decision for Jack Wilshere to leave Arsenal, he’d been at the club for seventeen years after all, but ultimately I think his departure is best for all concerned.

Jack was very honest with the reason on why he’s decided to leave the Emirates:

“Following my meeting with the new manager I was made aware that although the reduced contract offer remained, it was made clear to me that my playing time would be significantly reduced should I decide to stay.

“I am sure everyone can understand that at this point in my life and career I need to be playing first-team football and following my meeting with Mr Emery I came away feeling that it would be very difficult for me to do so at Arsenal.”

Wilshere has a real affinity with the Gunners and he’s one of the players that the home fans could relate to, as he was basically one of them.

The midfielder is a terrific performer on his day but injuries have stalled his progress in recent years.

During the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, Jack only made seventeen appearances. He was loaned out to AFC Bournemouth during the 2016-17 campaign and managed to get more game time at the Vitality Stadium.

Last term, Wilshere was back at The Gunners and made thirty-eight appearances in all competitions (twenty-nine starts). That was a massive step in the right direction and the central midfielder looked very accomplished when on the ball and he was one of very few Arsenal stars that showed any passion and urgency when the chips were down.

Tellingly though, outgoing boss Arsene Wenger just started the Englishman twelve times in the Premier League. It was as if the manager didn’t trust Jack not to breakdown under the pressures that the English top flight can provide.

There’s also plenty of competition for places and that will only get bigger when Lucas Torreira signs on for the club.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery obviously wants to freshen things up at the Emirates and solidifying the spine of the team seems to be a priority.

In recent years, Jack Wilshere has become a bit of a distraction at Arsenal. Injuries, contact negations and playing time have caught the attention of both support and the media. Those are issues a manager can be doing without.

The player himself will hopefully seize the opportunity to concentrate on becoming fully fit and shining for another club. He needs to use this disappointment as a spur to get his career back on track.

Wilshere is still just twenty-six years of age, hopefully he’s just heading into his peak years. He’s a determined player, an intelligent midfielder, has great vision and he links up well with teammates.

Last season, he scored twice and created five assists. Those stats should only improve if he get’s to play regularly from the start with his new team.

I hope the English international gives serious thought to playing abroad next season.

Italy seems to be a possible destination with Sampdoria, AC Milan and Juventus all believed to be interested in the creative midfielder.

Getting away from the limelight that follows him in England could be the best thing for Jack at this time. Serie A is a league that likes technically strong players and you probably get more time on the ball there, that should suit the midfielder’s style.

Adapting to a new league and a new culture could be the making of Jack Wilshere and get him back into the England set-up.

Here’s hoping that the midfield star can stay fit and reach his potential at a new club.

Rangers Boss Steven Gerrard’s Love Of Alfredo Morelos Makes Sense

New Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has taken his squad to Spain as they continue their preseason training in the Mediterranean heat.

The new Gers gaffer has already stated that he expects a fitter Rangers team next season and he’s also strengthened his defence during the current transfer window. He knows that a strong spine is extremely important, especially if they seriously want to cut the gap between themselves and Scottish Premiership champions Celtic.

Interestingly, Gerrard also took time to compliment Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos:

“We love the player. The fans love the player. He’s a goal scorer. We know what he can add to this team and squad.

“If you’re asking me if his head has been turned that’s a question you’d have to ask the player himself.

“But where we stand right now he’s a Rangers player and I’m delighted to have him.”

The second sentence alludes to persistent reports linking Morelos with a move to China or Turkey.

I can definitely see why Gerrard and his coaching team would take to Alfredo. The hitman’s a goalscorer first and foremost, he topped the club’s scoring charts during his debut season with eighteen strikes to his name.

The forward is a very passionate player, he’s an instinctive finisher and a fiery character. Those are qualities that Gerrard will certainly admire in a forward.

The Colombian only turns twenty-two later this month, and you’ve got to believe that he’ll only get better after getting used to the Scottish game last term. I’d expect him to score more next term, if he stays on at Ibrox.

Now opposition fans and defenders have been quick to laugh at or wind-up the striker.

Celtic fans in particular scoff at any rumours linking Morelos with a big money move. They’ve seen him miss a few sitters against the Hoops last term and don’t think he’s up to much.

While it’s true, he did miss some very good chances against his team’s foes, we shouldn’t forget that he kept getting into the right positions. Next season will offer him more opportunities against the Parkhead side and I, for one, doubt he’ll miss the same amount of chances if they were to fall his way again.

Opponents also know the young forward has a short fuse. They come in hard on the Colombian and get into his face. The new Gers management team need to try and curb his temper and get him to channel his anger into getting his own back via him hitting the back of the net.

You could tell that those misses started to bother Morelos towards the end of the last campaign. It’s important that Steven Gerrard and his coaching staff rebuilds the youngster’s confidence. The quicker he can get back amongst the goals the better for everyone involved.

I truly believe that Rangers haven’t seen the best of Alfredo Morelos yet and they’ll see more from him if he stays around next term.

It seems like Gerrard agrees and that could prove vital in keeping the forward happy amidst any potential interest.

Expect More From Romelu Lukaku At Manchester United Next Season

Romelu Lukaku ended his debut season at Manchester United with twenty-six goals to his name.

He average around a goal every second game for the Red Devils (slightly better if truth be told) but only sixteen of those strikes came in the Premier League.

Given that the Belgian international scored more league goals in each of his last two seasons at Everton, United fans may have expected more from their £75m man.

He had a lull in scoring form between mid September and early December, he struck just once in twelve outings. The forward also failed to score in the bigger games against any of the other sides that finished in the top four.

Personally, I fully expect to see more from Lukuka next term and I think his goal tally should increase too.

All in all, Romelu was a very good focal point for the Old Trafford side. He held the ball up well, ran into the channels and has worked on his link up play. The attacker was strong in the air, winning on average 3.4 aerial battles per game. He also contributed by making seven assists in the league.

His performance against Chelsea in the second half of the season, showed that he can handle the big game encounters. He scored one and set up another against his former side and that was enough to give his team the victory.

People have perviously questioned Romelu’s work ethic, footballing brain and his ability to perform under pressure. I think he answered a lot of those queries last term and will be more conclusive next term.

Man United boss Jose Mourinho has used Lukaku differently from what he was used to at Goodison. Instead of being a runner going at defenders, he’s been asked to do more for the team. That takes some getting used to and the twenty-five year old will be more comfortable with his lot next term.

The fact he played in all but four of United’s league matches, shows the trust Mourinho has in his main striker.

That was evident in Jose’s praise of the player in January:

“It’s really difficult to play against them,”

“That is amazing from Lukaku but sometimes people look at strikers and just analyse goals and that’s not fair because he is a team player and the quality, vision, pass today for the goal was fantastic.”

Now that Lukaku has had that year to familiarise himself with his new surroundings and his role in the Man Utd team, he’ll only get stronger in the coming years.

If Mourinho can find the balance in his team behind Romelu Lukaku and have his side attacking more, then I’d imagine that the twenty-five year old will battle with Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah next season for the golden boot.

Mateo Kovacic Could Be An Ideal Dembele Replacement At Tottenham

It’s not really a secret that Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele could be leaving the North London club this summer.

The Belgian has only twelve months left on his contract and he’s been heavily linked with moves to China and Italy.

If the thirty year old goes, then Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will have to replace the gifted middle-man.

He’s one of the players that makes the team tick, just look at Tottenham’s Champions League first leg against Juventus in the Round of Sixteen tie. He was absolutely superb in Turin that night and the Italian champions are now looking at him as a transfer target.

Spurs will have to bring in someone who compliments Eric Dier as the holding players in midfield.

Now Pochettino already has a few options within his own squad.

Victor Wanyama offers a solid defensive presence in the engine room. He’s the type of player that wins the ball for the team and then efficiently moves the ball on to a more creative player. The Kenyan’s season was much hampered by injury last term and that meant that he only started eight Premier League games last season.

Youngster Harry Winks doesn’t win the ball as much but his passing success rate is better and he’ll get the ball in creative areas quicker. He recently signed a new deal at White Hart Lane and that shows you that Mauricio likes him. He was another one that had his season curtailed by injury.

Danish internationalist Christian Eriksen can also be deployed in a deeper role. He completed a few shifts in that position last term, but in truth he wasn’t as influential there as he is on the attacking right-hand side.

If the Spurs recruitment team are looking elsewhere for a Dembele replacement, then maybe they should have a look at Champions League winner Mateo Kovacic.

The Real Madrid midfielder only started in ten La Liga games and the twenty-four year old will be wanting more first team opportunities next year:

“I believe I’ll play more, whether in Real or somewhere else,”

“Now is the time for me to play.”

“Offers? I am under contract with Real and I wish not to comment on other clubs.”

If Real can’t give him the assurances that he’ll be looking for then it might be best for all concerned that the Croatian heads off for pastures new. He will need more starts if he’s to fulfil his potential.

Tottenham and Madrid have a pretty healthy working relationship with each other. Spurs sold both Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to the Spanish giants, so Daniel Levy will believe that Florentino Perez owes him a deal.

For Real Madrid, they might look at it in a positive way of keeping Levy sweet as they eye possible future deals regarding Harry Kane or Dele Alli. Perez will no doubt try and insert a buyback clause in any Kovacic deal.

Tottenham would be getting a very accomplished midfielder, a player that’s familiar with the position and one that’s hungry to prove himself on a more regular basis.

Like Dembele, Mateo is a good transition player that gets the ball out of defensive areas and into the opponents half. The Croat averaged more tackles per game but didn’t make as many interceptions or dribbles.

Kovacic is a very tidy player on the ball, he’s got the skills to keep it in tight positions and the awareness to release effective forward passes. During the last campaign he averaged over 93% in the passing success rate stats in Spain’s top flight.

Spurs supporters adored Luka Modric and I think they’d love Mateo Kovacic if they saw him in a Lilywhites jersey next term.

Big clubs like Juve and Manchester United have been linked with his signature but if Tottenham Hotspur can get a deal done with Real Madrid then I’m sure they can offer the dynamic midfielder as much game time as he wants and that could persuade him that his future lies in London.

Thomas Strakosha Could Offer Liverpool A Different Goalkeeping Option

After Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat, it became clear that the Premier League side needed to improve their goalkeeper if they want to fight for top honours next term.

The Anfield side have already secured new midfield recruits in Fabinho and Naby Keita. They still need more new faces to add more strength in depth to their squad but a new keeper has be seen as a priority.

It looks like they could lose out on long term target Alisson, with the Brazilian being heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid. Another name that’s popped up over the last month has been England squad member Nick Pope. It’s believed the Burnley goalie will cost just £15m but his distribution from the back isn’t the greatest and that’s one of the issues current Reds number one Loris Karius has had.

Personally I think a move for Lazio shot-stopper Thomas Strakosha could be a better option for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Last term, Thomas started thirty-eight times in Serie A, keeping eleven clean-sheets. He also managed three clean-sheets during his club’s Europa League campaign.

He managed to save a last minute penalty from Paulo Dybala as Lazio managed a historic win over Juventus in Turin. After the game Strakosha stated that he’d studied the Argentine forward’s previous penalties and also got inspiration from his father (who also kept goal for Albania during his football career):

“Along with the staff, we had studied Dybala’s penalties and figured he would go to the right side. I had also spoken to my father and finally got to save a penalty.”

“At those moments, all sorts of things go through your mind and God helped me to save it. This was one of the top five saves in my career.”

At just twenty-three years of age, Klopp will see promise in the goalkeeper and hope that he can keep develop into becoming one of the world’s best.

The Albanian intentional certainly has the stature of a top keeper; he’s 6ft 4 and also very agile. He professes that his two goalkeeping heroes are Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer, you can see qualities from both in Strakosha. He’s great at getting down and making top class reflex saves, plus he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet.

The Liverpool faithful and coaching team might like to see him catch the ball more and command his area but these are things that can be taught, just look at the difference between David De Gea’s first season at Man United and where he’s at now.

The big plus that the young keeper has is his distribution capabilities. He averaged a passing success rate of 71% last term and that’s better than both Karius (67%) and Pope (39%). The Albanian also has a good eye for a nice long pass, that could be extremely valuable to The Reds as that would see the fluid front three getting the ball earlier in counter attacks.

Another positive as far as Liverpool’s recruitment team are concerned could be the fact that Lazio’s starting fee for the player could be €40m. That would be significantly less than what AS Roma want for Alisson. It should also be noted that Thomas has made more appearances than Alisson in European football.

Thomas Strakosha might not be the finished article yet and may seem a bit raw but if Liverpool don’t get their top target in Alisson, then I believe the Albanian international could be a very decent second choice.

Will Barcelona Turn To Liverpool’s Mo Salah After Griezmann Disappointment?

Mohamed Salah’s still waiting for his dream World Cup debut as he sat out of Egypt’s opening game against Uruguay earlier today.

His club side, Liverpool, could be braced for summer offers for the gifted forward after he enjoyed a stunning first season at Anfield.

Spanish giants FC Barcelona could be a team that tests Jurgen Klopp’s resolve as they need to look elsewhere after being snubbed by Antoine Griezmann.

The French internationalist was heavily linked with a summer move to the Camp Nou but the forward announced yesterday that he was going to stay with current side Atletico Madrid instead.

The Catalan side will probably be on the lookout for a new superstar attacker next term.

Luis Suarez had a bit of an iffy campaign last year and Ousmane Dembele hasn’t been an instant hit since his big transfer last summer. Paco Alcacer looks set to depart after struggling to get to into the first team and Munir hasn’t set the world on light with his recent loan moves.

Mo Salah could be a sensational signing as he would come in and offer world class talent.

At Liverpool, he’s used to playing in a fluid front three and while that wasn’t used as much under Ernesto Valverde it was a favoured formation when Neymar was still at the club.

Having Lionel Messi on the left and Salah on the right, might see a return to form from Suarez. It would certainly be an attacking threesome that would strike fear into most of the defences in world football.

Salah is also fast becoming one of the world’s most marketable players and that will no doubt attract the interest of Barca and their old rivals Real Madrid.

His stunning performances have seen him being linked with the Ballon d’Or award, the last man to win that award that didn’t play for the big two of La Liga was Cristiano Ronaldo back during his Manchester United days in 2008!

There’s obviously a few issues that stand in the way of a deal being done.

Liverpool and Klopp won’t want to sell their top player to anyone. They’ll believe that they are on the cusp of great things and to achieve their goals they need to keep the best in their squad and bring in better players themselves. They certainly don’t need the money.

Say Salah decides he would prefer to join Barca,and there’s nothing to suggest that’s true, that doesn’t mean that he’ll be sold. Look at the transfer saga between the Reds and Barcelona when it came to Philippe Coutinho. The Anfield side’s hierarchy didn’t sell until they felt the time was right, they’ll be even more determined not to sell to Los Cules this time around.

The player himself has stated he’s happy at Anfield:

“There’s something very special about playing for Liverpool,”

A possible carrot of including Dembele in any deal could at least interest Klopp. The German is a known fan of the former Borussia Dortmund man but I’m not sure he’d be happy to let Salah go just to get Ousmane in.

Another problem would be England’s new transfer window. Instead of closing at the end of August, it will now shut at the start of the month. That means that the English Premier League sides need to do all their purchases before then and Liverpool won’t sell a top forward after that date. So it’s a very short window for Barca’s moneymen to get a huge transfer done.

If I were to guess then I’d think that Mohamed Salah will sign a new deal with Liverpool and stay in Merseyside for at least another full season.

But let’s be honest, nothing stops Barcelona from trying to engineer moves for players and trying everything to unsettle them. If I were Liverpool I’d be braced for some big bids this transfer window and plenty of dark PR arts coming out of the Spanish media!

Could New Rangers Boss Steven Gerrard Play Three At The Back?

New Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has arrived in Glasgow and he’s already brought in six new players.

Out of those new signings; two are centre-backs and another is a goalkeeper. That shows us that the new Gers manager is looking to build a stronger spine in the defensive line.

I wonder if Gerrard could look at starting with three at the back.

New defender Nikola Katic is player that’s used to playing in that formation. The Croatian international played as the left-sided central defender for Slaven Belupo as part of a three. It could be beneficial for the twenty-one year to play in a familiar formation, especially as he settles into Scottish football.

Fellow new man, Connor Goldson is a tall, athletic defender who can play as a centre-back or even at right-back. That could mean he’d be ideal as a right sided central defender in a back three.

You could then have veteran Bruno Alves as the main man in the middle. The Portuguese internationalist could be a good leader to have at the back as Katic and Goldson get used to the Scottish Premiership. He’s also the best when it comes to the aerial battles. Plus the other two could cover in behind Bruno if he gets caught under the ball.

Rangers were often too soft at the back last season and made far too many silly errors that cost them.

Having a three man defence could make it harder for teams to break them down, especially if the defenders compliment each other’s skills.

It could allow Gerrard to use various formations like 3-5-2, 3-1-4-2 or 3-4-3.

In James Tavernier and Declan John, Rangers already have strong full-backs that have good engines on them and are very capable at playing as wing-backs.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see what Steven Gerrard has in mind for his new team as the thirty-eight year old gets used to life as a manager.

The Gers gaffer recently said:

“I think for me it is important not to be obsessed with Celtic . I have to sort Rangers out,” 

“There are things we need to improve on and my focus is on Rangers.”

That shows you that he’s focused on trying to get things right at Ibrox and to do that then he needs to sort out the Rangers backline.

Could a bold move, like switching to a back three, be the answer to his side’s recent defensive problems?

Well we’ll probably find out next month as the Gers prepare to start their season in the early rounds of the Europa League.

Can Brazil Find Redemption At This Summer’s World Cup?


If you check back on Brazil’s history in the World Cup you’ll notice that they sometimes need to endure failure before coming back and taking the crown.

The first time the South Americans won the Jules Rimet trophy was back in 1958, when they had the talented stars of Pele, Nilton Santos, Vava and Garrincha in their ranks.

But in actual fact, they were heavy favourites to win the tournament eight years earlier when they were the tournament hosts.

Everything looked to be going to plan as they topped their group, before demolishing both Spain and Portugal on their route to the final at the Maracana.

In that final, they were up against confederation neighbours Uruguay.

It was all going fine as Friaca gave the home side the lead just after half time. The Brazilians were being treated as winners before the game had even kicked-off and the opening goal would have sent Rio into a carnival like atmosphere.

Then the gods decided to have fate intervene. Uruguay would equalise in the sixty-sixth minute and then on the seventy-ninth minute Brazil’s world caved in on itself.

Penarol right winger Alcides Ghiggia picked the ball up and drove into the box before taking a shot at goal. The effort looked fairly innocuous, yet inexplicably Brazilian goalie Moacyr Barbosa wasn’t ready or in the right position to stop it going in at his near post.

The 190,000 odd in the Maracana fell silent as the thought of not winning their home World Cup started to sink in and the country pretty much went into mourning.

Brazil’s failure in 1950 would make the triumph all the sweeter as they perfected an exciting attacking style that would dominate international football for the next twelve years. They won three out of four World Cups between 58′ and 1970.

In 1998, the Selecao were once again considered to be overwhelming favourites. They had won the cup in USA 94′ and this time they had Ronaldo, the most gifted striker of his generation.

O Fenomeno‘ was amazing in the 98’ tournament scoring four goals as he led his nation to the final and they expected the hitman to gun down hosts France and bring home the trophy.

But fate again decided on a different ending.

Ronaldo would suffer seizures leading up to the final and wasn’t initially named in the starting eleven. The world’s media went into meltdown trying to get to the reasoning on why the world’s best player wasn’t playing on the greatest stage of them all. Then all of a sudden a new team-sheet was handed over and Ronaldo was to start the game after all.

Alas Ronaldo was in no fit state to play and the pressure on him had clearly affected his mental and physical state. He would be a passenger as Zinedine Zidane would capture the gold trophy for France.

Ronaldo would suffer from plenty of devastating injuries in the next four years and when the World Cup came around again in 2002, he along with his country were written off as outsiders.

The superstar striker managed to turn it all around and get his own taste of redemption as he scored eight goals and helped secure Brazil’s fifth World Cup title. He’d grab a brace in the final and his grin once again lit up plant earth.

Four years ago, Brazil would host the biggest cup competition for the first time since the 1950 disaster.

Things were looking good as star man Neymar struck four times in the group stages. They would then knock-out fellow South American sides Chile and Colombia. The quarter-final victory over Los Cafeterias came at a cost as Neymar left the field on a stretcher with a broken bone in his back diagnosed after the game. That injury would keep the talismanic figure out for the remainder of the competition. 

The shocked Brazilian side then had to face Germany without their main star and they were savagely beaten by seven goals to one.

Every German attack seemed destined to finish in a goal and the Selecao’s defensive line just crumbled under the intense pressure and couldn’t win a tackle or keep the ball.

Once again Brazil were humiliated and humbled on their own turf with the rest of the planet watching on.

Now just four years on and there’s once again a whiff of redemption in the air as the Samba stars arrived in Russia.

Neymar missed the last few months of the league season in France due to injury but he’s returned on the eve of the World Cup and looks to have fully caught up with the speed of first-team international football again. The forward could be seen as this year’s Ronaldo, the player that needs to shine and once again prove himself in the yellow jersey of his nation.

In Gabriel Jesus, they have a clinical young striker. While Roberto Firmino gives them a harder working attacker if that’s the tactic that’s needed to break down defences.

Goalkeeper Alisson is a world-class shot-stopper and you need to have a good keeper if you want to go far in this competition.

They’ve got experience at the back with Thiago Silva, Filipe Luis, Miranda and Marcelo all in the pool.

In midfield they’ve got a bit of everything. You’ve got ball winners, passers, creative forces and pace too.

You won’t find many squads as strong or as well balanced as the Brazilian one.

The man charged with picking the right starting eleven is Tite.

Chelsea man Willian has been quick to praise the fifty-seven year old coach:

“He is the one who changed a lot of things. That’s why Brazil now play great football. With the ball. Without the ball.”

“Off the pitch, he is a great guy as well. Great manager. That’s why Brazil are in this position now.”

Tite has pulled Brazil up from the despair of 2014 and is inspiring them to create history in Russia and claim their sixth World Cup.

As we know, Brazil are a proud nation and they don’t take defeat well. They seem to use previous failures as energy to spur them on to their next triumph.

You shouldn’t bet against them doing it yet again this summer!

Could Marco Verratti Be A Diamond At Manchester United?

Yesterday, French league champions PSG were cleared of breaking UEFA’S Financial Fair Play rules. It’s been said that the Ligue 1 side’s finances will remain under scrutiny and that they’ve been told that they need to recoup €60m in transfers before the end of this month.

Rumours claim that PSG have offered Manchester United the chance to purchase Marco Verratti.

The deal could make sense as selling the midfielder will bring in most of that €60m. Plus he’s one of the Parisien’s stars that isn’t at the World Cup this month, so he can leave before the deadline passes.

Then there’s the fact that Marco wasn’t as influential with Les Rouge-et-Bleu last term as he has been in the past. The twenty-five year old has been with the French champs for the past six years and it looks as though the player has become a bit stale in France and needs a change of club to revitalise his career.

Now the need for a midfield man like Verratti might not be as high for United now they’ve confirmed the signing of Fred but the Italian international could give Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho more options when it comes to formations next season.

Verratti’s used to playing in a 4-3-3 and we know that’s the formation Paul Pogba favours but it might not be the best for Jose if he has Fred, Verratti, Pogba and Nemanja Matic all wanting to play. Although rotation might help Verratti and Fred to settle into the Premier League.

If you want to play them all, then a four man diamond formation could be used. You’d have Matic as the holding midfield marshall. Then the two new signings as the the runners and Pogba as the creative force playing closer to the forwards.

United fans are used to exciting wide players and that wouldn’t be as evident in the diamond formation. The full-backs would essentially become wing-backs. You could also give Alexis Sanchez/Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba/Jesse Lingard more freedom to move around in the attacking areas. Plus we have to remember that Mourinho prefers to be pragmatic and having Matic, Verratti and Fred all in the same team would give them a stronger spine.

Verratti gives you a player who’s very efficient with the ball. In thirty appearances (Ligue 1/Champions League) last season the deep laying playmaker averaged 91.3% in his passing success rate stats. He also managed to create five assists, down from the seven he produced in the 2016-17 season.

Often mentioned as his nation’s replacement for Andrea Pirlo, his performance against FC Barcelona in 2017 should be enough to tell you that the midfield dynamo can be a world beater on his day.

While is talent is clear to see, his disciplinary problems are also hard to hide. He picked up nine yellow cards last term and was sent off twice. That record needs to improve and the Italian needs to learn to time his tackles and keep his mouth shut when facing referees.

If Marco Verratti has indeed been offered to Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese coach has to decide if he really needs him?

Will it be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth in midfield? Should Man United look to fill other positions first? Or will the Italian international offer Jose different options and the ability to keep the ball and create more chances for his forward players?